GLF57: Gavin considers what's expected this season.
Motherwell's start to the season has been met with a tinge of disappointment after a heavy defeat at Kilmarnock and a spectacular collapse at home to Dundee United.
What makes it more difficult to take is the Old Firm flirting with the mid - table obscurity after a few dropped points and Hearts and Hibs leading the challenge.And Kilmarnock and Inverness's good progress from the end of last season has also continued five games into the season.
The problem when we start to lose a few games though is that the misery merchants in our support come to the fore.
While there may only be a few hardcore moaners in each block of seats, they are audible if things aren't going so well as the atmosphere naturally goes flat.
But where do these people find such disappointment from ?
In all Motherwell's campaigns since the Premier League came into being thirty years ago,we have finished in the top half of the table just six times-once each under Willie McLean,his brother Tommy,Alex McLeish ( with Tommy's team ) and Billy Davies.
And twice under Terry Butcher.
With a cup final appearance under Terry's belt too,only the second in fifty years,the last couple of years have been among our best in recent times.All this achieved shortly after one of our darkest periods when players were sacked, administrators came in and we finished bottom of the league,achieved without paying transfer fees and with a nucleus of young homegrown talent.
We lost half our central defence on the eve of the new season and have experienced one of the worst injury runs for years.The midfield quartet that started the season - Paterson,Leitch,O'Donnell and McCormack-were all injured come the end of our fifth league match at Tynecstle.
Throughout last season,because of injuries,we struggled to maintain much continuity in midfield,where the fluidity of a team is controlled,yet still managed to get into the Top Six.
Terry Butcher is rarely the target for the boo boys but what would happen if our injury crisis continued and we found ourselves in the bottom echelons for a spell ?
I'll never forget seeing Motherwell play some great football in the mid 1990's,yet still hearing guys moan after a couple of misplaced passes.
So will some of these guys ever be satisfied ?
I find it deflating that this is a constant theme to fanzines and discussion boards and just what can you do to combat it ?Players making mistakes are booed and shouted at by guys who couldn't even kick their own arse.How many of the boo boys have actually played football at a decent level ?How many have played at the top level ?
If some guy off the street came and shouted at them while they were at their work,I doubt they'd be too happy.
In the recent Hamilton game we made a couple of early mistakes at the back,where we had a couple of teenagers playing with one ( Quinn ) playing a rare game at centre half and the other ( Donnelly ) starting his first match.Some of the crowd started to get restless but we were playing some decent football and were beginning to control the game before we equalised.But if the scoreline had stayed 1 - 0 for much longer,I bet the merchants of doom would have got much more restless and more critical and what would the result have been ?
Players rushing passes,not wanting the ball,not being prepared to take risks.
That's the undeniable result of being shouted at for making honest mistakes.Anyone who's played football at any level knows that encouragement inspires you and people being overcritical restricts you.If a player gives 100% and tries to do the right things I don't see how any criticism can be levied by inferior players.
So where does the disgust at a few misplaced passes come from ?Probably from folk who are angry with something else in their life and needing to take it out on someone. Why not switch on the telly and shout at Alan Titchmarsh ?
Or better still, travel down to the Home Counties, find Alan Titchmarsh's home and shout at Alan Ticthmarsh ?!
Anything but spoil the atmosphere at Fir Park,which I reckon must seriously demotivate some fans from coming and some players from staying if they've gone through a bad spell and recovered.
If we get a break from this injury spell we'll probably finish in the top half again but the only thing for certain is that we'll win games we expect to lose and lose games we expect to win.It's never been any different,yet you'd be forgiven for thinking the 'Well used to bring home trophies each year by the way a handful of guys go on.
The classic excuse of " I pay my money,I can shout what I like " does not wash with me.And there lies one of the only ways round the problem.
If everyone else shouts encouragement then we can drown out the clowns.But in the age of all - seater stadium and sparse crowds,it ain't easy to gain much momentum.
The only other option I can think of is to give the boo boys a taste of their own medicine.Shout abuse at them and when they have a go back, tell them:" I've paid my money,I can shout what I like ."
Depending on how big they are,of course.
But none of them can be that big if they spend their Saturdays shouting at players from the safety of the stand.
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